Showing posts with label Kalon Mosque. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kalon Mosque. Show all posts

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Uzbekistan | Bukhara | Kalon Mosque

Kalon Mosque, right (click on photos for enlargements), with the facade of Mir-i-Arab Madrassa on the left
 Entrance to Kalon Mosque
  Entrance to Kalon Mosque
 Courtyard of Kalon Mosque
  Courtyard of Kalon Mosque
Interior gallery of Kalon Mosque

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Uzbekistan | Bukhara | Kalon Mosque

The first big mosque in Bukhara was constructed in 713 within the walls of the Citadel. In 770 a new congregational mosque with accompanying minaret was built outside the Citadel, apparently on the site of the current Kalon Mosque. From the eighth to the eleventh centuries the mosques on this site was repeatedly damaged or destroyed by earthquakes and fires and subsequently rebuilt and enlarged. In 1121-22, during the rule of the Qarakhanids, a still larger mosque and minaret was built on the same location using wood from the previous structure. The minaret soon collapsed, seriously damaged the mosque. In 1127 the mosque was rebuilt yet again, along with the accompanying 153-foot high Kalon Minaret.

In the year 1220, on the 10th, or the 16th of  February, depending on whose account we believe,  the hitherto noble city of Bukhara Fell To Chingis Khan and his army. He and his son Tolui rode their horses into the big Friday Mosque on the site of the current Kalon Mosque, where Tolui dismounted and ascended the minbar, or pulpit. According to the Persian historian Juvaini, Chingis then asked if this was the palace of the Khorezmshah: he was informed by the imams in attendance that it was not the palace of an earthly ruler but the House of God. He too then dismounted and climbed up onto the pulpit. Although it may have been the House of God, he had more earthly concerns. The Mongols’ horses were hungry and must be fed, he ordered from the pulpit. The city’s granaries were opened and the grain dispensed for horse feed. Chingis’s men dragged the cases which were used to store Qurans out of the mosque, dumped out the sacred books, and used them as feeding troughs for their horses. Their horses having been seen to, they ordered up wine and dancing girls for their own entertainment. Soon the mosque rang with the sound of Mongol songs bellowed by the celebrating inebriates. 

Juvaini, although a scribe in pay of one of Chingis’s descendants, was a Sunni Muslim himself, and he could not keep a note of disapproval out his account of these carryings-on. Hitherto dignified imams, sheiks, and sayyids, he tells us, were made to look after the Mongol horses while their owners partied. When the bacchanalia was over the Mongols rode away, trampling under the feet of their horses the leaves of the Qurans which had been scattered around the courtyard of the mosque. At this point, an imam named Jalal-al-Din Ali b. al-Hasan Zaidi, “chief and leader of the sayyids of Transoxiania . . . famous for his piety and asceticism,” turned to an imam named Rukn-ad-Din Imamzada, “one of the most excellent savants in the the world,” and lamented, “ . . . what state is this? That which I see do I see it in wakefulness or in sleep, O Lord?” Apparently all of which he had just seen seemed like a nightmare to him. His companion replied, “Be silent: it is the wind of God’s omnipotence that bloweth, and we have no power to speak.” 

The mosque was totally destroyed in the fires that followed the Mongol sack of the city. It is not clear when a mosque was first rebuilt on the site. In 1539, under the Shaybanids (r. 1500–98), whatever structure did exist was replaced by a completely new mosque with 289 vaulted bays. This is the version of the mosque which has survived down to the present. 
The Kalon Minaret, center, survived the sack of the city by the Mongols and can be seen to this day. On the right is the entrance to the current Kalon Mosque. On the left is the front of the Mir-i-Arab Madrassa
Front of the Kalon Mosque
Another view of the front of the Kalon Mosque
Entrance to the Kalon Mosque
Courtyard of the Kalon Mosque. It can reportedly hold 10,000 people. 
Courtyard of the Kalon Mosque
 Courtyard looking the other way (Enlargement for a mes)
The Courtyard
Courtyard of the Kalon Mosque
Current Minbar (pulpit) in the mosque, obviously not the one mounted by Chingis Khan and his son Tolui.
Vaulted bays on either side of the Courtyard
Vaulted bays on either side of the Courtyard (Enlargement for a mes)
Vaulted bays on either side of the Courtyard
Graybeard fingering his beads in the courtyard
Dome of the Kalon Mosque
Bukharan Skyline, with the Kalon Mosque on the right 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Uzbekistan | Bukhara | Kalon Minaret

I already mentioned that only two structures in Bukhara survived the invasion of the city by Chingis Khan in 1220: the Ismael Samani Mausoleum and the Kalon Minaret. The later is located right in the very heart of city, in a large plaza between the Kalon Mosque, the largest mosque in Bukhara, and the Mir-Arab-Madrassah. The current structure is 153 feet high, making it visible, some say, for as far as eight miles from the city. Chingis Khan, approaching from the north, no doubt had the Kalon Minaret  in sight as he zeroed in on the city. 

A Friday Mosque has stood on the sight of the current Kalon Mosque since at least the tenth century. The first Kalon minaret was built to accompany this mosque in 919, during the time of the Samanids, but it was destroyed by “an act of God”, perhaps an earthquake, in 1068. A wooden minaret was built to replace it by the Arslan Khan of the Qarakhanids, who ruled Bukhara at the time, but this structure later collapsed, reportedly killing many people who were worshipping in the mosque at the time. Another account claims the minaret was destroyed during one of the many sieges of city in the eleventh and early twelfth century.

In 1127 Arslan Khan ordered a new minaret (some sources say it was completed in 1127), one that would withstand any acts of either God or man. A foundation of mortar fortified with camels’ milk, egg yokes, and bulls’ blood was set forty-five feet into the ground and allowed to harden for two years. Then construction began on what would be at the time the largest fresh-standing tower in the world. Arslan Khan was overjoyed by this monument which glorified his city throughout the Islamic geosphere, but the architect, a man named Usto Bako, was dissatisfied by the end result: “The flight of my fancy was greater than the minaret I built,” he lamented. Reportedly he was buried 153 feet from minaret, the same distance as its height. 

Chingis Khan was reportedly so impressed by the minaret that he ordered his troops not to destroy it. Even to this day tour guides tell the story that when Chingis first approached the minaret he bent his head backwards to take it all in until the fur hat he was wearing fell off his head. The underlying theme of this story as told by Uzbeks is that Chingis was basically a country bumpkin from the steppes of Mongolia who had never seen the sophisticated monuments of an advanced civilization before and was thus amazed that human beings could have created it. This story may of course be completely apocrophal, but for whatever reason the minaret has survived down to the present day.

The Kalon Minaret, with the Mir-Arab-Madrassah on the left and the Kalon Mosque on the right 
 The 153-foot high Kalon Mosque
The current minaret stand on an octagonal base and has twelve separate bands of distinctive brickwork. Each band is different and the patterns never repeat themselves.
 The gallery at the top has sixteen windows
Another view of Kalon Mosque